Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 101 - This Is It

Well, here I am. Still in Madagascar. For now. Everyone's been asking me what I think about going home (this) week, but I don't really get what they're trying to get at. I am home. Madagascar is my home.
Antsirabe is my home.
Antananarivo is my home.
Fort Dauphin is my home.
Tamatave is my home.
I've been going home every day for the last two years. I won't be going home next week, I'll be leaving home.

I feel so blessed to have been able to travel around so much this last little bit and see all the parts of my home that I love so much. I haven't been able to make it back to Fort Dauphin yet, and I won't make it back before I leave, but I will make it back.
You always have to come back home.

I'll put a little morsel of Malagasy here. Probably my last one. Fo. It rhymes with who. It means heart. My heart is here in Madagascar. My heart is here with the Malagasy people. My heart is here with the stellar missionaries serving here. And my heart is here, stuck very tightly to the little black piece of plastic with my name and my Savior's name carved in it that sits on my chest. I think removing that will take part of my heart with it.

In zone conference, my little portion has been about charity and love. About the reason we serve the Lord for two years. I feel like the reason I left on my mission hasn't really changed much these last two years. I am a missionary because I love the Lord and I want to do as He would have me.

I've definitely learned a lot these last two years, though, but I wouldn't say it's ever been a big change all at once. Doctrine and Covenants 98:12 says it pretty well: "For He will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith." I feel like I'm the same person I was before I first came home here two years ago, I've just been magnified and grown.

I feel so blessed to have been allowed to come here and be touched by so many wonderful people here. I feel so blessed to have been allowed to come here and maybe touch some of them.

Jesus Christ lives. The Book of Mormon is true. Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet. I can be with my family for eternity. Jesus Christ lives.
He lives.
The words of my testimony haven't changed at all, but the conviction and strength most certainly have.

I love you all.
Mandra-pihaona indray.

Goodbye Madagascar.
Mbola hifankahita indray izaho sy ianao.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Week 100 - Highlights From the Week

So I've been trying to figure out how to end this all off. I'm mostly pulling blanks though. I want you all to understand a little bit of how I feel right now, but I've never been good enough at English for that.

I think I'll start with a brief overview of the week.

On Monday we played soccer on the nice turf field in Carrion, on the road to go to Tamatave. It was  a Tana North Zone activity, and it was a blast. Highlight would be the massive chunk of my leg that got ripped out by the turf. I think it looks a little bit like Madagascar.

On Tuesday I went tracting with Elder Pinson, from my group and my first companion back in Fort D. He works in our area, so I pretty much worked in my own area. We just have two companionships in the same area, essentially, no boundaries or anything. It was fun. We talked to a LOT of people. It was great being with him again for a day.

Wednesday was back in my area with my companions. I went with Elder Covey and we went looking for families. We found one. Then we taught our fantastic recent convert family that got baptized last week. They are doing great! They have their baptismal certificates framed in their living room and they were raving about the blessings of the Gift of the Holy Ghost. There's nothing like that.

On Thursday we went to Ambohimanarina for splits. We went to district meeting with them, and Elder Heiden taught a great lesson about working with members. That's something that I'm still working on. It's way important too. Then I went with Elder Razafimandimby. He's from my Amparihy Branch in Fort Dauphin. We came out into the field at the same time. He's doing fantastic! What a stellar missionary! He's going to be a great leader when he gets back to Amparihy! Then we had to end the split early for Elder Covey and me to go pick President Foote up from the airport, he was coming back from Fort Dauphin and Toliara. So we drove him home and talked to him while we waited in traffic. For a very long time. I love President! He's the coolest guy in the world!

Then Friday was the highlight of my week. We went back to Tamatave for zone conference. We left early in the morning and got there at two in the afternoon and started right away. I love my zone. It was so great to see everybody again and be back in one of my homes. That was my favorite zone conference so far. Everyone was very well prepared and the Spirit was very strong. I love being a missionary. Then I got to go out with Elder McCrary and teach Frederic and Eleanor and their family. Elder Johnson and I found them and they are preparing for baptism right now. Then I got to stop by the church and see Delphin because it was his shift (he's the security at the church and a recent convert). He's in my top three favorite people in Madagascar. I was so happy to see him again.

Then on Saturday we drove back and taught and tracted in our area.

Sunday we went to church. I love church. Then we taught and tracted and found a new family. Justin is from Fianarantsoa and is a retired soldier, then his wife, Mary Louis is from Toliara. They were so inviting and brought us into their house before we could even introduce ourselves. Then they felt terrible that they didn't have any food to give us. People are so GOOD.

And that's my week. I only have one more of those. That's weird. I think next week I won't be emailing really, so I'll write another email here in just a sec: my last one. I just wanted y'all to get a little taste of how life is going for me right now.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 99 - Zone Conferences and Baptism!

Great week!!! I'm sure you all probably didn't read the subject line, so I'll just say it again, but we had zone conferences and baptisms this week. Cool, huh?

On Monday we were in Tamatave and decided to drive back to Tana a day earlier, so we did. Did we get stopped by the police on the way home? Yes we did. Did we get away safely? Yes we did, I'll tell you how some other time. Then on Tuesday, President Foote got back from his trip to the missionary president's seminar in South Africa and then from Mauritius and Reunion visiting the missionaries over there. Anyway, he'd been gone a while, so we met with him all Tuesday and Wednesday, then on Thursday and Friday we had zone conferences for the Tana North Zone and the Tana South Zone. Zone conference was great! I love learning from President Foote. On Wednesday, he told us stories for hours and it was great! I feel like there's so much stuff that I can learn from him. But zone conference was great. And it was way cool to see all of the missionaries too. And eat the pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. Twice. I loved it.

Then on Saturday we had a baptism!!! Harilala and Tina got baptized! They're a way cool couple whose son was baptized about six months ago. I'll send pictures next week. Then, over in Tamatave, MODEST AND SOAZARA GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!! bap bap bap bap tized, I'm lovin' it! So good week. Two families baptized, one in my area now, and the other in my last area. I'm happy.
Then, another cool story, this last week I sat next to James' MTC companion at church! Way cool! I also got to see all my members in the Tana 1st ward because the go to the same building as the Anjanahary ward!

Then we also finally got out to work in our area on Saturday evening and Elder Wiscombe and I killed it and set up so many times and taught a couple times in like the three hours. It was lots of fun. Our other companions wish they were as good as us, hahahaha

Anyway, malagasy morsel is mandresy, which means to win. And Andriamanitra (God) always mandresy (win). And if we can sacrifice the little bit of time that it takes to get the Spirit with us we will have His help at all times.
Love y'all,